Historic Distillery Puts Its Name in Concrete

The Journeyman's custom concrete bartop features a stenciled logo symbolizing its heritage
By Anne Balogh, ConcreteNetwork.com columnist


The owners of the Journeyman Distillery, located in the historic Featherbone Factory in Three Oaks, Mich., embrace everything that's handcrafted, from the artisan spirits they make from local ingredients to the architecture of their building, which features the original maple floors from the 1800s and wood salvaged from a family barn in central Indiana. During a recent renovation of the building, much of which used repurposed materials, they wanted a handcrafted concrete bar for their tasting room, one that would allow them to etch the Journeyman logo into the top and GPS coordinates marking the distillery's historic location into the side.

Design goals:

"They asked us to create a natural concrete bar that looked old and would fit in with the older look of the distillery," says David Eerdmans of Hard Topix Precast Concrete, Jenison, Mich. "The general contractor had drawn up the design of the tasting bar, but it was up to us to figure out a way to fabricate it."

Hard Topix made two mockup samples of the bar to show different finishes, stenciled logos, and edge treatments. They also stenciled a few different samples of the GPS coordinates so the client could select how dark they wanted the dyed stencil to be.

Secrets to success:

The project involved building a main tasting bar and a smaller portable bar stenciled with the Journeyman logo. For both bars, Hard Topix used a self-consolidating concrete pigmented a dark gray.

To give the main tasting bar an aged look, Hard Topix created voids in the sides and polished the top and the edges with a diamond grinder, using a deeper grind in certain areas to give the surface a worn look. The Journeyman logo and GPS coordinates were sandblast stenciled into the smaller portable bar after the concrete was cast. Then dye, in a blend of tan and black, was airbrushed into the sandblasted area. Both bars were sealed with a urethane-acrylic resin coating that's cured using ultraviolet light. The wear-resistant UV-cured sealer offers long-lasting protection from stains and scratching.

Because of the size of the tasting bar, Eerdmans developed a plan to fabricate the bar in pieces in the shop so it could be moved into the building and assembled. The pieces had bolt inserts cast into them so they would connect easily. Hard Topix then delivered the countertop pieces on a boom truck and rented lifts to assist with the install. "The pieces came together great," says Eerdmans. "The bar can be disassembled and moved to another location in the future if necessary."

Materials used:

Concrete pigment: Twilight gray, from Blue Concrete
Sealer: Rocktop UV, from Surface 519
Sandblast stencil: Razor's Edge Graphics
Concrete dye: Bomanite

Concrete contractor:

Hard Topix Precast Concrete, Jenison, Mich.

General contractor:

Chester Inc., Valparaiso, Ind.

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